This Sunday David took us back to a time, pre-covid, when we ate with those outside of our bubble. He focused our attention on the dinner party and banquet parable in Luke chapter 14. Out of the awkwardness of the chat over dinner and a loaded statement from one the guests, Jesus begins the parable.
A certain man had prepared a banquet and invited many guests. It was now imminent, and the servants were sent out to proclaim:
As David explained, this banquet was a clear picture of the ultimate kingdom banquet – heaven. The invitation is to come into God’s eternal shalom.
The Invitees in the parable, who had received their initial bidding and now their call to come, started making excuses and clearly prioritised other possessions and affections over their attendance at the banquet.
This is a strange twist in the story and for us, looking back at the original hearers, we are shocked. These religious leaders in the home of a prominent Pharisee saw themselves as the true people of God, assuming their names were on that original guest list. Yet, history shows that Jesus was rejected by these very people:
When news of rejected invitations reaches the host, he is angry and sends his servant out to bring in the least of the community into the banquet – those who had previously been excluded.
Even with these guests, there is still room.
The master sends the servant out again, this time to the roads and country lanes – beyond the borders, to compel attendance at the banquet. There is no completion of this order in the parable and, as David explained, it is still ‘live’ as seats are being taken today.
The parable ends with a sobering line:
This would have been shocking for those listening to Jesus at the dinner party. They were being told that they had made their choice and would ultimately live with the consequences of that choice. They were relying on themselves and their credentials and did not think they needed Jesus. But their rejection of the servant King sealed their own destiny and excluded them from the greatest dinner party ever!
David’s question was simple: What about us?
- Have we accepted the invitation? Do we understand that Christ has done it all for us to be included in the feast? Do we realise that our righteousness is worth nothing? Do we grasp the amazing grace of Jesus Christ?
- If we have accepted the invitation, do we understand that we are commissioned by Jesus to go out and compel others to come and join the banquet? Are we burdened for those in the streets and alleyways of our towns and beyond our borders? Are we as a church constantly and continually saying to our neighbours, “Come, for everything is now ready.”?
We might be looking forward to dinner parties in the next few months as regulations relax, but God’s word challenged us to look a little further ahead to a much more important and better feast!